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Active Practise: 5 Ways to Level Up Your Guitar Playing

As a guitar player it can be easy to fall into the habit of playing the same old licks and riffs instead of pushing your musical boundaries and playing outside of your comfort zone.

The best way to improve yourself, not only as a guitarist but as an all-round musician, is by applying yourself to a practise routine designed to bolster your skills and overcome weak points in your technique and musicality.

I’ve used these 5 methods to help students overcome plateaus in their playing and ensure that they are always improving and growing as musicians. By applying them into your own practise routines, you’ll be able to achieve the same consistent improvement.


1. Slow It Down

Without doubt the most crucial skill an active, performing guitarist can have is an excellent sense of time. 

When looking for professional gigs, be it depping for live shows or session studio work, you won’t be hired on the strength of your sweep picking chops or ability to play technical licks, but rather your abilit​​y to keep time and lock in with the rhythm section.

This is a skill that goes underdeveloped in many guitarists as they don’t take the time to actively improve their time keeping.

One of my favourite ways to improve sense of time is by practising parts at a much slower tempo - even if you can comfortably play them at full speed. It sounds very easy, but most guitarists will struggle at first to really lock in when playing at very slow tempos.

Playing at slow speeds forces you to feel the space between notes and how the phrasing of a passage lines up to the beat. It gives you a much better understanding of how rhythm and phrasing work within a piece of music and will help you better understand timing in any piece of music you hear.

This is also crucial for live work and playing with others. All drummers will have their own feel, often playing around the beat. By improving your sense of time you’ll be able to better lock in with their feel which will have a huge impact to the overall sound of the band.

2. Record Yourself Practising

When you’re playing guitar, it’s very difficult to objectively gauge how you sound. Not only are you half distracted by actually playing, but because you’re audiating you’re also hearing a lot of how the passage should sound as opposed to how it actually does.

For this reason, it's important that you record your playing. If you don’t already have one, invest in a good aud​​io interface so that you can record your playing at home.

Get into the habit of recording new parts that you’re working on with just the click track and then listen back critically. Examine all aspects of your playing to find what you need to improve:

Are you locked in time with the click?

Are your bends pitched correctly?

Does your vibrato sound even?

Does every note ring out clearly?

Is your picking hand in time with your fretting hand?

At first you’ll likely be a little surprised at just how different it sounds being played back compared to how you thought you played it.

By doing this regularly you’ll very quickly pick up on what needs improving in your technique so that you can isolate that aspect of your playing and work to improve it.

As an added bonus, this will be massively beneficial to getting used to recording to a click in studio conditions, which will pay off when you come to recording your own music professionally later down the line.

3. Set Firm Goals

Being able to critically listen back to your playing also helps inform another important part of active practise: setting firm goals.

By having something to work towards you’ll always be improving as a player and avoid hitting the plateau that many guitarists do.

This can be as simple as improving your vibrato on wide bends or as difficult as trying to learn to play complex, polymeter Meshuggah-style riffs.

By constantly reappraising your technique and your skillset, you’ll always be able to find weak spots to improve upon as well as gaps in your knowledge to plug.

It’s also a good idea to listen to lots of great guitarists across many different genres, as this will inspire you to continue learning music outside of your comfort zone.

4. Frequency & Consistency

The human brain tends to digest and process information better with frequent exposure, and this is definitely true of learning guitar parts and techniques.

Rather than having one long practise session each week, most people will improve faster if they were to practise for 30 minutes every day.

By practising for shorter amounts of time, it also makes you focus on what you’re trying to improve, rather than just noodling around.

Finding the time to fit this around a busy job or school studies can be difficult, so forming a habit around practising at the same time every day can be helpful.

With shorter sessions, it's important that you plan what you’re going to do in that time and remain goal focused. 

I find it helpful to write out what I’ll do during a practise session and stick to that schedule, for example:

5 minutes: warm ups - scale runs and picking practise

10 minutes: Half speed sweep picked arpeggios with gradually increasing tempo

10 minutes: Wide, multi-note bend practise with tuner for measuring correct pitch

10 minutes: Ear training, transcribing a couple of bars of music by ear

5. Learn Music You Enjoy

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you should make sure that you’re learning music that inspires you and motivates you to pick up the guitar.

Spending all of your practise time challenging yourself and working on abstract technique exercises is hugely important, but it's also a sure way to suck the fun out of playing.

Whether or not learning the songs you want to play will expose you to new ideas and techniques, it is important to just enjoying playing the instrument.

Make sure that you’re splitting your practise time between improving your technique or musicality as well as playing music that makes you feel good - if you don’t enjoy your practise time you’ll burn out and become unmotivated.

Some days you’ll naturally feel less motivated than others and, no matter how much you try and pump yourself up, 30 minutes of technique practise just won’t seem achievable. When you have these days, allow yourself to just have fun. Even if you haven’t achieved what you set out to in that session, every minute you spend playing is a minute you’ve spent improving.


About the Author

Scott Ronald is a musician and guitar teacher with over 7 years’ experience touring and recording. He has played all over Europe in venues ranging from dive rock bars to large festivals and arenas.

He is also the editor of GuitarGearHeadz, a guitar and pro audio review and comparison site that helps guitarists make informed purchases.

Learn Everything About Bass Guitar

Exactly how hard is playing bass guitar? Not so much if you can learn everything about the bass guitar. Well, we do not plan on feeding you the entirety of bass guitar and related things, but you get it.

We will try to keep you informed with the basics, that you must, must know if you want to be a good bass guitar player, or want to satisfy your hobby of bass guitar playing. We will not only ensure that you are satisfied, but also that you have fun along the way with some simple and easy-to-remember guidelines.

Now, it will require a huge level of commitment and even more practice. So let’s hop into it.


Learn Everything About Bass Guitar

This part is divided into 4 sections for your ease of understanding. Here goes:

The Right Guitar

Half the battle is lost if you do not have the right ammo. In the battle of guitar playing, your most obvious and sadly the only weapon is the guitar itself. So, you will need to invest a good amount of time selecting the right guitar. For the record, we know where to get some cheap bass guitar for beginners.

Parts of the guitar

In a typical bass guitar, in all bass guitars, to say, we start with the neck, on top of which is the headstock. The truss rod(s) connects the neck to the body. The headstock also contains the tuners to control string tension. Also throughout the neck is the arched I, where your fingers will play, with or without narrow metal frets. The strings run across the bridge, on top of the saddle, near the soundhole of the body, to the headstock.

Types

There are multiple criteria on the basis of which you can classify bass guitars. The body of a bass guitar can be a solid one or a hollow one. Single coil or humbucker style is available for pickup and there can be passive/active preamps. The number of strings can also vary between 4 to 6.

Tuning

Often beginner players say, it is the hardest part of buying and dealing with a bass guitar and is a number one turn off if you can’t find the right way to do it. But to put you at ease, you need not be master tuner as soon as you start. It gets better with practice, actually. If you are going to play in front of a group of audience or in a band, you will need to set your tune right, straight from the start. If you are playing at home, you needn’t be so serious and can give it time until you find the right pitch.

And there are two ways to tune, let us tell you. One is using electric tuners, and the other is by your ear. Electric tuners are the best if you do not know what is going on.

Pricing

You can find some of the quality bass guitars at 200 dollars or less, beginner-level of course. But you can spend as much five thousand dollars to get a vintage Fender, and we don’t mind. Who will!

Conclusion

Even the deadliest of weapons is a joke if you don’t know how to use it. So, you have to be patient with and dedicated to your guitar. Practice regularly. You can spend nearly an hour practicing, but it wouldn’t be enough if you are doing it wrong. Take the help from friends, family, from someone who plays. Go online, surf and try to play your favorite music. Start slow and you’ll grow into it.

The Best Headphones To Practice Guitar Quietly

Learning how to play guitar isn't particularly easy. Once you have the basics like finger positions and chord composition down, you'll still need to put in countless hours of practice. Unfortunately, those hours can be torturous to anyone who lives in your home or even nearby - that is, unless you have access to a great set of headphones.

There are plenty of headphones that work incredibly well for those who want to learn how to play an electric guitar quietly, ranging from those created specifically for guitars to all-purpose headphones that do a great job of providing an excellent aural experience. Below are eight of the best currently on the market.

11 Tips For Healthy Guitar Practicing

Learning a guitar takes time, but with regular practice, anyone can learn it to perfection. The basics of playing guitar are very easy to learn, and you can take your playing to perfect levels with practice.  The habits you build in the beginning stages of your practice will stick with you till you play guitar in your life.

If you begin with the correct styles and habits, you are sure to reach the levels or perfection where you can play for any type of song or music. So, check out these tips to make your guitar as effective as possible.


Holding the guitar

The first step in learning a guitar is holding it correctly in your hands. If you are a right-hand person, you should hold the neck of the guitar with your left hand. Put your right hand in the middle of the sound hole and the guitar bridge. Align the neck of the guitar at 45 degrees with the vertical position of your body and hold the back of guitar so that it touches the right side of your abdomen.

Hold the pick correctly

Holding the guitar

The pick is a tiny device used to play the strings of a guitar. It is essential to hold the pick correctly to play the guitar comfortably and produce the required tones. Hold the pick between the thumb and fingers of your dominant hand, so that the skinny point faces towards your body. A tiny part of the pick should stick out of your fingers.

Playing the chords

Playing the chords

An essential part of playing guitar is playing the chords. You need to practice playing the chords until you produce even notes without any highs or lows. The best way is to start with the first position chords that you need to play between the first and third fret. Using a few first position chords, you can play the tones for pop, country, and rock genres.

Playing the Barre chords

They are also called the power chords, and you can make them by positioning the same finger at different frets. For example, one can make a G chord in the 1st position or by making a barre chord at the third fret.

Find the buzz point

Play the strings, so light with your left hand that the notes buzz due to not playing hard enough. Then press enough to make the buzz disappear from the notes. When you squeeze harder than the point on which you have just made the buzz disappear, you need to warm up daily to repeat finding the “just enough point” for not to buzz. Squeezing beyond the just enough point” would be a waste of energy and might lead to an injury.

Practice to a beat

Most players play the guitar to different songs as they want to play with speed. But playing steadily with feeling to a song is the key to achieve perfection in guitar. Practicing to a beat enables a player to play the notes he or she can see not the ones he/she can play. It is crucial to develop a sense of rhythm to achieve perfection in your playing.

Practice Scales

The guitar training academies offer you scale sheets that you need to learn and practice. However, the self-learning players need to find the scale and practice them while playing. If you are learning to play the guitar yourself, you can search and download the lesson and scales to practice them, but it is beneficial to learn from an instructor.

Make your practice fun

Make a decision for learning playing the guitar on a new song for every new scale or page of your learning book. It is best to learn playing for the type of genres you want to learn instead of spending your time learning unwanted songs. If you are learning from a teacher, you can ask them to help you to play for the songs you want to learn.

Create a practice schedule

Create a practice schedule

As every new field, whether it is learning a guitar or martial art, requires practice to learn. You need to spend sufficient time daily to learn to play guitar. Therefore, it is best to create a practice schedule to organize your time and regularity. It will help you to provide real-time to your learning.

For example, if you work in a job and have a family, you won’t have sufficient time. It is better practicing 15 minutes daily than to schedule a three hours session in a single day and none for rest days in a week. If you have spare time, you can practice for hours in a day, but you should be realistic regarding the practice time.

Skill building and fun activities

As a beginner, you need to learn the basic skills first, while professionals can practice more fun. It is best to create a balance between what you need to learn and what you want to learn while playing the guitar.

For example, if your teacher instructs, first to practice scales on a mini guitar and you want to learn to play on your favorite song, you should practice the scales first. As you develop your skills on scales, you can practice learning on any song you like.

Practice and learn from others

A person cannot be perfect by playing the guitar alone. You should learn from other professionals. Many professionals offer online lessons on video platforms like YouTube. After learning the necessary skills, you can follow a professional to learn the advanced lessons.

It is also essential to play your guitar in groups with experienced players as you can learn many lessons from them. The positivity and collective energy help a player to learn more and achieve the next levels of learning guitar.

Final words

Learning a guitar is an art. The more you practice playing guitar, the more you learn. Learning playing guitar is a never-ending activity, and the tips in this post can help any beginner to learn the guitar from the basics.

How To Succeed In Your Music Lessons?

A music teacher is surely a major reason for the success of a student. No doubt about that! But, pick any music learning theory and you will find the role of the student is relatively more prominent.

The credentials of a teacher give you a kick start but to continue the student has to be well prepared for the next step. Here is a list of 6 steps compiled for the benefit of the students in the most specific situations to avoid frustration and accelerate the learning process.

How to Sing Like A Country Music Artist

It may surprise you to learn that many famous country music artists weren’t born with that perfect country twang. Believe it or not, Shania Twain is from Canada, and Jo Dee Messina is from Boston.

So, how did these popular artists learn to sing that perfect country twang? They had to learn it, of course. Surprisingly, you don’t have to be born in the South to sing like your favorite country music artist.

The Most Popular Electric Guitar Models

There are hundreds of electric guitar models out there, but only a fraction of those can be called great. Many of these models are popularized by the world’s foremost musicians, and many guitar players have since worked hard to acquire these very same guitars that their idols play or have played.

From beginners to seasoned pros, musicians of any age strive to have the best instrument they can get. Here are some of the most popular axes that’s on many musicians’ electric guitar wishlist.

Best Musical Instruments to Be Given to Children

Only one-third of the kids learn to play musical instruments and this is the reason that 70% of
the adults wish that they had learned. For advocacy of music education, it is essential that we
take into account the music education statistics. Schools which offer music programs have
approximately 90.2% graduation rate whereas the institutions not offering it have 72.9% rate
on average.

The Gallup Poll conducted a special survey titled American Attitudes toward Music. It revealed
that 71% of the people believed that teenagers who played musical instruments were more
disciplined and 95% of them had a firm conviction that music plays a positive role in essential
child development.

The findings by the National I​​nstitute of Health suggest that musical interventions have the
potential to support child development and facilitate educational processes. They enhance the
language, cognitive, social, motor, and academic abilities. Considering these facts, we present
the list of the top musical instruments which must be given to children:

How to Improve Your Singing Skills

In today’s time, a lot of singers are discovering new and unique ways of being more in key, eliminate nasality and increasing the volume of their voice. Whether you are just someone who loves singing with the radio while driving down the road or performing professionally on stage with your band, there is always a good reason to learn and improve your singing voice.

Lastly, passion is the name of the game. If you want your voice to improve into something attractive, you will sing and practice often. You can also opt to have vocal lessons at Bohemian Vocal Studio to improve and be a good singer! Singing is an art, not unlike composing music or painting. Keeping in touch with your voice will keep you satisfied and self-assured, apart from working as a form of personal therapy. You always need to remember that your voice is your body’s musical instrument and staying in practice will help you maintain it.

Here are some tips on how you can improve your voice to be better than the best bookshelf speakers in your home.

The Most Important Tips That You Need to Know to Maintain Your Guitar

If you are a guitar owner, you probably attach a lot of sentimental value to your instrument. After all, you know your guitar like the back of your hand and are able to make it sound just the way you want. Due to this, you will want your instrument to last as long as it possibly can.


Then there is also the fact that some of the best instruments aren’t exactly cheap either, which means that you have made some kind of investment. So, it stands to reason that you probably don’t want to spend that kind of money any time soon. 


Well, the best way to ensure that your guitar continues to hold up well is if you maintain it properly, guaranteeing a longer lifespan. If you aren’t entirely sure how to go about this, check out these useful tips below: